Sunday, March 30, 2008

Come See My Show, plus Running Update and Guess What's Back?

I'm sitting in my grandparents' apartment in soggy Delray Beach after a very good week of rehearsals for TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE. It's going to be a really good show. I'm kind of surprised, not because I thought it was going to be a bad show, but because shows like MORRIE aren't my cup of tea. I prefer edgier fare. But I'm really enjoying this production. The actors are really good and the production is not wallowing in the shmaltz and pathos that it could easily play into. We're going in, not the opposite direction, but rather emphasizing the relationship between the men, and the result is a production that is full of emotion, humor and warmth instead of sap and shmaltz.

So if you're in the Boca/Delray area and want to come see, check out the Caldwell Theatre Company's brand new home at the Count deHoernle Theater -- it's still got that new-car smell!

Even though I'm glad to be here among my second family, I'm sad that I'm not in NYC. Laura has officially left the apartment, and her friend Bill has moved in -- he's cat-sitting for us until I get home. I know I'll see Laura before she leaves for parts unknown, but still, it's the end of an era. It's going to be very strange adjusting to the apartment and getting new roommates and learning to live with new people. Not bad, not good, just different. And right now, I'm not a fan of different. I met a really nice woman who I was hoping would be able to rent Laura's room, but her lease runs out in May, and because I have a summer roomie through the beginning of August she was not able to take the spot. So any of you NYC runners looking for a nice midtown location to share with a slightly crazy runner and two adorable know who to call.

Speaking of running...some revelations to share. First off, if you've been following my sidebar in the days when I'm not blogging (and really, why wouldn't you check here every day?) you may have noticed that since returning to Florida my times had been getting slower and slower. It was really frustrating to me because I wasn't feeling any slower. I know I tend to be slower in the heat, but it wasn't that hot here, and even with it being warmer here than in NY I was pulling times closer to a 9-minute mile than an 8:30. Not that that's anything to sneeze at, but I've been training at closer to an 8:30 pace for these distances (up to a 10K; I couldn't hold that pace over a long distance at this point) and didn't feel I was moving any slower. Anyway, it was really discouraging.

After three incredibly bad runs in a row, with one of them at a 9:11 pace, I started thinking that maybe it isn't me, maybe it's the calibration on the Nike+. Don't know why it would un-calibrate (de-calibrate?) but it was worth a shot. Couldn't get any worse. So I mapped out a mile and re-calibrated it, and turns out that what was a mile on the map was only .93 on the Nike+. Doesn't seem like much, but over 5 miles -- okay, let me try to do some math (not easy for me!) Over 5 miles, that's a difference of .35 miles. If it takes me 8 1/2 minutes to run a mile, then it takes me 51 seconds to run a tenth of a mile, just short of 3 minutes to run .35 of a mile, and 42:30 to run a full five miles. So if the odometer was .35 off -- for a five-miler that would change the pace per mile to 9:06. Wow. I was so happy to see that it was the Nike+ and not me that I ran the mile home (after stopping at the Walgreens and toting a shopping bag with stuff in it) in 7:45. So saith the Nike+!

After that, I've had a couple of amazing runs. Not necessarily scenic or anything, I just felt so damn good, everything was working, my breathing was great, my legs felt great, no pain anywhere -- they were just the definition of "good runs."

Y'all remember that strange sofa cushion that I mentioned kept popping up on Military Trail? IT CAME BACK!! WHAT IS GOING ON DOWN HERE?

I'm hoping that, like it's been in the past, there's a correllation between my speed on the road and my steno speed. I haven't been practicing as much as I should be (rehearsals and all,) but when I'm on the machine I just feel faster, like there's been a breakthrough. I won't know until I get back to school in May, but fingers crossed.

Okay, must concentrate on "Rock of Love II." Twice as skanky as Part I. Love it!! I especially love how Amber -- excuse me, Ambre -- is right now comparing herself to Daisy, who's a dancer, and saying how she's much better than Daisy because she's got a stable job and an income. So throwing yourself at a B-grade rock star on reality television, that's not skanky or sleazy at all. Nope. Ah, television!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter!

It has been raining here for the past two days, and I am swearing by what I said in my earlier post -- until we start training in earnest for NYC 2008, no more running in the rain! Hence, the lack of running. In Florida it's all or nothing -- it's either completely rain-free or the heavens open up, which is what it's doing now. Is it coincidental that today is Easter? I'm sure there's irony there, but as a Jew, I'm at a loss to tell you what it is.

I've also noticed that the back of my right knee has been aching again, which happened to me in October along with the weird hip thing that I thought was tendonitis and yet was not. This is actual pain to the touch, and I am attributing it to two things: my first run after that danged cold was about a mile too long, and my hip is probably a little out of whack. Nothing whatsoever wrong with the knee. It's so strange to think oh, my knee hurts, my hip must be out of joint. But I do the hip stretches that Miri gave me in February, and they make my knee feel better. So maybe a couple of lazy days is all right, gives everything a chance to heal up.

It does distress me that the Nike+ says that my times this week are so slow. I don't know how accurate it is. It could be that the last few runs were into a headwind, or my usual slowdown in the heat, but it hasn't been all that warm here (hooray!) so I've decided the system needs to be recalibrated. Surely there's nothing wrong with me! I certainly don't feel any slower, except when running into a headwind, it's very Marcel Marceau.

In other news, we're a week into rehearsals for TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE. It's a book, a film, and a play. It's everywhere you look! I confess to being the one person in the world who never read the book. The play has its shmaltzy moments, to be sure, but it's a lot less treacly than I feared. Still, there's a lot of aphorisms to wade through. The actors are quite good, and I think the audience will enjoy it. Rehearsals can be exhausting. It's strange how a two-person show is more tiring than a ten-person show. I find myself unable to run in the mornings, I need all the sleep I can get before heading in to the theater.

Spekaing of which, rehearsal begins. Hopefully some running tomorrow, it's supposed to be sunny and mid-70s.


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

I'm Baaa-aaack

Well, here I am back in Florida. Two pieces of good news:
-as you can see from the sidebar, I am feeling well enough to start running again
-it has actually been COOL down here!
Well, not cold cool, but a cool breeze. More like a stiff wind. It can be difficult to fight through. My first run back, I foolishly tried to do a five-miler because I thought it was cool enough, which it kind of was not -- it was hot out, but the wind made it seem cooler than it really was. But man, that wind. It really pushes you back. And how does it manage to be a headwind both coming and going?

That's one of the reasons for my slower times, also I'm STILL getting over this friggin' cold. I have never had a cold linger the way this one has. It finally "broke" over the weekend, but I'm blowing my nose about a thousand times a day. I swear, my brain has liquefied -- not all of it, just the parts that died the day I decided to go into theater as a profession -- and is coming out of my nose. I'm still coughing and sneezing. You'd think running would help clear out the sinuses, and maybe it is helping, but egads.

The weather is supposed to be rainy the rest of the week, and rest assured I won't be out there in the rain again. Not until we start officially training, in any event. I've learned my lesson, for now, at least.

Okay, I admit it, I watch too much TV. Not much else to do at night. In my grandparents' development we have the worst cable TV system. Tons of sports and golf channels (not my cup of tea,) no BBC America, no Discovery Health, no Sundance or IFC. Since it's not digital cable, we don't have that snazzy guide that lets you see what's on all the channels and what's coming up. My newspaper this week didn't even have the TV listings, and even when they do, they don't list all the channels, and not all the times, only prime time. For South Florida, TV watching capital of the world, that seems kind of wrong.

One homemade commercial that I do miss is the one for the Florida Center for Cosmetic Surgery. It featured many giant-lipped large-breasted women in bikinis emerging from the pool, massaging their men, and best of all, playing basketball (kid you not, in heels and bikinis.) I think the Center was shut down for being completely unlicensed and all that good stuff.

I'm in rehearsal right now, for TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE. It's a book, a movie AND a play. And I should actually start paying attention to what's going on in front of me. More anon.

Good to be back!!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Sick as a Dawg

I haven't been blogging because I haven't been running.
Like the title says, I am sick. Yes, still sick from the cold I got on Thursday. Bad chest cold, I could barely talk.
I didn't even go to the 15K race on Sunday, that's how bad I felt. And when I give up a race, that's a big thing.
As of this morning the cold has moved from my chest into my head. I know I can run with a head cold, but I'm so woozy and congested I don't have the desire to try.
I hate not running, I feel like a potato.
The worst part is I am leaving for Florida -- and hot weather -- on Friday, and when I get back to NYC in mid-May, it'll be hot again. Missing all the wonderful spring running weather.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Run-Down in the Rain, Plus Three Cool Evenings Out

So on Tuesday I went for a run in the rain. I was exhausted, having not gotten enough sleep for the past few nights, but I was so full of nervous energy I had to get out of the house. If you look at the sidebar you can see that my pace for the 3+ miles was under an 8-minute mile. Pretty impressive for me speed-wise, yes. I just needed to burn some of that energy off. Maybe not the brightest idea in the world, as now I have a cold, and a 15K coming up. And I know, the rain didn't give me a cold. It was the rain plus my run-down-i-ness. Let me just say I wasn't the only person out there, lest you think I am totally bonkers. I am, but I'm not alone.

The reason for all my run-downness is that my roommate of nearly 14 years, Laura, is leaving. She accepted a new job that is going to take her out of the country, most likely permanently. We knew this day would come, but it's still hard. Complicating matters is that I will be heading back down to Florida next week, and won't even be around when Laura leaves. So, to make a long, depressing story very short, it's been hard.

Anybody need a large room in a lovely 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom apartment in beautiful midtown Manhattan? Must love cats and humor runners.

Three things I saw these past couple of weeks that I must share:

-I was supposed to have drinks with my friend Erin after work. She calls me and says, "Slight change of plans. How'd you like to see Eric Clapton?" Huh? Turns out that a work connection had something to do with the concert and had tickets available. So, heck yeah! We get to the Garden, get our tickets, and are taken to our section, 63. The ticket said "Stevie Winwood / Eric Clapton" and I thought oh, Steve Winwood is opening for Eric Clapton. So we start walking down, down, down...oh, my God, we are on the side of the stage, THREE ROWS UP. And while that is Steve Winwood singing, that's, is that? Yes, that IS Eric Clapton PLAYING WITH HIM. Holy crap! We tried taking pictures with our camera phones, but all we got was blurs of light. An astounding show. Lots of jamming, and except for one comment by Steve Winwood ("Are you all having as much fun as I am? It's such an honor to be sharing the stage with Eric Clapton.") there was no banter. Really one of the most amazing concerts, and mind-blowing evenings, in recent memory. Of course, the pot smokers were right behind us. Aren't they always?

-Went to see "Sunday In The Park With George" at Studio 54. If you're in NY and have the chance to see this, run. Even if you're not a Sondheim fan, it will blow you away. Even if you absolutely hate musicals and Sondheim makes your ears bleed, you will love this show. Why? The visuals. It is the most innovative, entertaining, inventive, and beautiful-looking show you will ever see. They use a combination of projections, animation, and video to bring the painting and the scenery to life, and I can't even describe it. You have to see it for yourself. And the best, and perhaps oddest part about all the technology is how warm and human it was. Just go. Go. You'll thank me.

-Lastly, my friend Shirley got tickets to a secret Eddie Izzard show. He's been doing a series of workshops to hone his material before launching his new stand-up concert, and this was one of those workshops. It was supposed to start at 10:30 but they only did will-call and it took a LONG time to get everyone in (It was at the Union Square Theater.) It didn't get started until after 11pm, and Eddie had a cold and it was hard to understand him because of his hoarseness and the not-so-great sound, but it was a lot of fun. Yesterday Shirley discovered he'd be playing Radio City in June. We've already got the tickets.

Sunday is the Colon Cancer runs in the Park. You can do a 4 miler or a 15K, either one counts. Guess which one I signed up for? And the weather this week has been 40s-50s and sunny. This weekend? 30 and rainy.


Sunday, March 2, 2008

Race Report: Coogan's 5K, What Is 229686, and More

Hello, dearest readers,

First off, No. 229686.
What's that, you say?

Why, my
of course.
Yup, $136 dollars later and I'm good to go. What a rip -- and yet, if it buys one more porta-pottie at Fort Wadsworth, money well spent, I say!

I said that my predicted finish time would be --
Yes, I am shooting to BREAK FOUR HOURS!!!
Can it be done? Well, of course it can, but by me?
We'll see.
This is the first time I'm going to go into training without having to start over; if anything, I'll start marathon training in about as good a shape as I was in about mid-way through training last year, if not better. This is going to be exciting, to see how much further I can push myself this year. And while at this very early stage I'm not hugely confident, if I could shave 30 minutes off my time between 2006 and 2007 , I can surely shave 15 off between 2007 and 2008.
I sense the makings of a good contest!
We'll wait until Fred's Team gets started up in April, and then -- LET THE CONTESTS BEGIN! Also, I'm looking for new and exciting "party favors" to give people for donating / guilt people into donating -- oh, did I say that last part out loud? 'Fraid so. Hey, ANYTHING to get you all to donate to the Aubrey Fund. HOORAY, FRED'S TEAM!!!!! If you think of anything good that would make a nice party favor -- I was thinking of key chains, for example -- leave me a comment here.

So today was the Coogan's Salsa, Blues and Shamrocks 5K up by Ft. Tryon Park. You start on 167th and Ft. Washington Ave, head to the Park, into the Park a ways, and back. Simple, right? Pretty much, except that it's an almost totally hilly course. Mostly uphill to the Park, downhill once you get into the Park, and then, of course, the opposite on the way back. It's more tiring than it sounds, the Park's hill, I'd say it's about Cat Hill steep, maybe a little less, but it's about twice as long. The best part about this race are the bands they have set up along the course, playing, you guessed it, salsa and blues music (no, not "shamrock" music, but there was a guy with an accordian...) Right outside the park there's a drum corps. Most of these bands are kids, too. And after you finish, head a block over to Coogan's Pub and Restaurant for your free beer. At 9:00am! Mmm mmm GOOD!

Didn't get a lot of sleep the night before, but since it was a 5K I wasn't nervous, I was just thinking I wouldn't maybe do as well as I wanted. Oh, well. 30 degrees and breezy but I didn't want to overdress as I tend to do on colder days. Thermal shirt, cotton long-sleeve over the top, long pants, ear warmers. Gloves -- but only one pair (on Friday I wore two pairs, and needed them.) Looked for Teammates -- Nicole had invited those of us running this race over for brunch, as she lived in the neighborhood -- but couldn't find them, the crowds were huge. Oh, well, I'd find them after, Nicole told everyone to meet up by baggage claim. Lined up in the 8 minute mile pace group and stretched. How big was the crowd? The 8:00 corral was so far back we couldn't hear the starting horn. 8:00!!!

Oh, quick tangent -- starting mid-April NYRR is going to start using seeded corrals. In other words, when you sign up for the race, you're to give a predicted pace time, or if you're a NYRR member, it'll be based on your race history, and your bib will have a color code that will correspond to your pace's corral. BRILLIANT!!! I don't mean that sarcastically, I'm truly thrilled. So many people -- myself included -- have been thwarted of a PR, involved in collisions, or just plain old had a bad time at a race because so many runners either don't know how to properly estimate their pace and line up in the right group, or they just don't care. While I don't think this will completely solve the bottlenecking problem -- there's always going to be people who insist on being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and the races are usually too big to really enforce this -- it will be a great help. Thank you, NYRR!

It's funny, I think a lot of people were expecting this to sort of be followed today, I've never heard so many people complaining about slower runners blocking their path. And yes, there was definitely a lot of congestion today. The road isn't that narrow, but it's an out-and-back, and because it goes so quick there's traffic in both directions nearly the entire time. This is also a race that brings out a lot of newbie runners, because it's early in the year and it's such a short race. Plus did I mention the free beer? LOTS of kids do this race, too, not just the kids' races but the whole 5K. I'm really so glad that NYRR has a Foundation that gets kids running, and their charity Team For Kids supports running programs in schools. It's great to see them out there, and a lot of them do really well.

Without further ado, my stats.
Out of 3259 people -- 1483 of them women, and 363 of the total # between ages 40-44 (with 147 of those being women)

Finish Time: 25:11
Pace/Mile: 8:07
Overall Place: 904
Gender Place: 180
Age Place: 23
Age Graded Time (don't ask me what this means, but I'll take it): 24:18
Age Graded Gender Place (but not this): 199
AG % (no idea what this means): 61.3 %

That's two PRs for me, both for the overall 5K time and pace per mile time!

After the race, an absolutely lovely brunch at Nicole and Richard's apartment. Nice people, good food and fun conversation. A perfect way to celebrate a good race. Thanks again, Nicole and Richard!

Too tired to get to the promised "and more" part of this post's title. And there is more.